The price tag dwarfs that of the current record-holder, the three-year-old Newton North High School, a nearly $200 million project that sparked a national debate over suburban excess.
The Boston estimates are tracking higher even though the two Boston schools would educate far fewer students than those enrolled at Newton North: 1,360 for Boston Arts and the Upper Quincy combined, compared with 2,000 at Newton North.
Interim Superintendent John McDonough said that the estimate reflects the high cost of construction in downtown Boston, one of the most densely developed areas in the city, where vacant land is a rare commodity. The two schools would be on Kneeland Street on state land near Interstate 93, and are intended to open in 2017.
“The cost of construction in a downtown location is more expensive than what it would be in the suburbs,” McDonough said, noting that combining the two schools into one building provides economies of scale. “This is a more advantageous plan than doing construction at two different sites.”